Top 12 restaurant wine gripes

Pushy staff

A complaint that was raised again and again was of unfinished glasses being removed from the table, with one complainant noting that this was especially prevalent in US. This wine gripe works both ways, however – many’s the time that a waiter will quite sensibly attempt to remove a glass that has been sitting with its dregs for an hour only for the diner to yank it back with a look of goggle-eyed affront.

Another common cause of irritation was the experience of “waiters frantically refilling your glass after every sip in the hope you’ll order another bottle”. Cheeky, and a very common ruse.

Staff pouring the wine full stop is a bit fraught. Particularly, as one respondent said, “if your partner drinks much faster than you. It means, in my case, unless I down the drink at the beginning of the evening, I get almost no wine from a bottle. And, I don’t want to be preferentially topped up, because I don’t like drinking from a full glass”.

With all this to contend with, who’d be a sommelier?

2 Responses to “Top 12 restaurant wine gripes”

  1. pippa Hayward says:

    From a former restaurateur/sommelier (albeit with a reputation for a fairly priced and well chosen list) –
    yes the wine has to contribute to the restaurant’s running costs -which in the Uk and in stand alone restaurants without the benefit of the large margin you can make on room sales – are considerably higher than mainland Europe. If restaurants excused wine from contributing to running costs menus and food prices would have to rise to make the shortfall up . This is not rocket science.
    There is perception amongst some customers that restaurants don’t add any value to wine(in the way that a chef does to ingredients) but a good wine recommendation can make a meal
    Restaurants do have a duty of care to their customers and wines – to provide a carefully chosen selection, sold in a helpful , informative and kindly way with the sensitivity to make the right recommendation in style and budget for every client. Sommeliers are highly trained professionals -customers should expect to pay for their advice as part of wine pricing.
    Our own decision to make a far smaller margin on more expensive wines ensured that we sold those wines and that customers felt they were treated fairly .

    Then there is the question of training – restaurant staff should be taught how to serve wine correctly , not overfill glasses and be aware of the correct temperature -it’s simply part of good service .

  2. Jack Keenan says:

    I find that when I am presented with a bottle of white wine in a fine restaurant, and I taste and approve the wine and the vintage it is invariably too cold. The sommelier then begins to put the bottle in a bucket of ice or a “cold tube.” I say “No!, please it is too cold just leave it on the table.” The sommeliers invariably then say “thank goodness, you know wine…we hate to put it on ice, but most patrons insist!”

    Cold is the enemy of flavour!

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